A strong fourth quarter by Lone Grove helped them overcome a sluggish start as they came from behind to defeat the Dickson Comets 28-12 Friday night at Longhorn Field.
LONE GROVE — A strong fourth quarter by Lone Grove helped them overcome a sluggish start as they came from behind to defeat the Dickson Comets 28-12 Friday night at Longhorn Field.
The win improved Lone Grove's record to 5-4, 4-2 in District 3A-4, and vaulted it into the Class 3A playoffs. The Longhorns are guaranteed a fourth-place finish and could move as high as second with a win over Plainview this Friday. The point system could come into play if that happens.
Dickson (4-5, 1-5), knew it was its final shot to make the playoffs, and the Comets played that way. Dickson controlled the game's momentum through the first three quarters, but was unable to keep Lone Grove at bay in the fourth.
Ridley praised his team's toughness in the face of difficulty facing a desperate opponent needing a win.
"It seemed like we were still riding the euphoria of our win over Purcell last week," Lone Grove coach Kenny Ridley said. "Offensively we forgot to play the first three quarters."
After a scoreless opening quarter, Dickson scored on the first play of the second when Drake Haggard ran it in from 4 yards out. The PAT run failed and Dickson maintained a 6-0 lead into halftime.
Lone Grove's Aaron Sinkler fumbled on the third play following the break, and Dickson's Payton Sweeten recovered at the Longhorn 43-yard line. Five plays later, Dakota Helm scored on a 5-yard run to put the Comets on top 12-0.
Late in the third quarter, the game momentum started to swing, in part due to the depth of the Longhorns' bench. They started to wear down the Comets, and the game turned. With 1:14 remaining in the third, Lone Grove finally got on the board when Darron Lewis ran it around right end for the touchdown to make it a 12-7 game.
The Longhorns were now moving almost at will, and Dickson was held to just one first down in the game's final 12 minutes by the Lone Grove defense.
A 4-yard touchdown run over left tackle by Aaron Sinkler gave the Longhorns their first lead at 13-12 with 10 minutes left in the game. Lone Grove's offense was now moving to the same beat as their defense had earlier in the contest.
"Our defense did a great job of keeping us in the game until we could get rolling on offense, Ridley said. "Our defense has been our calling card all season."
Lone Grove drove 63 yards in nine plays to score an insurance touchdown with 2:07 left. Ruhnke hit Tanner Vernon with a 28-yard scoring toss to increase the Longhorn lead to 21-12.
With 23 seconds left, Ruhnke scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to gain Lone Grove some added playoff points.
"Our poise was good, and we held things together, especially when things went wrong," Ridley said. "We've been resilient all season, and that has helped us be successful.
"Jaz (Long) and Justice (Ruhnke) both came up big during the times they were at quarterback. And (sophomore) Darron Lewis has provided a big spark for this offense in the last two weeks."
Long, who took most of the Longhorn snaps, had 98 yards on 20 carries, and Lewis had 10 carries for 72 yards. Bamburg had 92 yards rushing on 19 carries for the Comets, and Helm had 17 carries for 62 yards.
Turnovers were huge for both teams. Lone Grove lost three fumbles and had one pass intercepted, and Dickson had three passes intercepted and lost one fumble.
"We made a lot of mistakes, and we could not overcome those mistakes," Dickson coach Jeremy Reed said. "We played pretty well in the first half, but we needed more points from the breaks we did get. We were definitely our own worst enemy tonight."
Lone Grove hosts Plainview on Friday, while Sulphur travels to Dickson in the final game for both teams.